The Key To Customer Insight Marketing From Anywhere
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere – even half way up a French Alp
It’s now back to reality after a fantastic Christmas and New Year break, the latter part of which was spent with friends skiing in the French Alps. Don’t worry, the irony of returning to the UK amid the most extensive snowfall for decades was not lost on me!
That said the skiing was great and the company excellent. I went with a group of friends, a couple of whom are business owners. One of whom had organized the accommodation (yes all sourced and booked online), and very lovely it was too, but knowing him as I do, I should have guessed that high on his list of selection criteria would be WiFi access, he always worked with the best internet service providers. He owns a medium sized business that has offices in North & South America as well as the UK and Europe and for him, being connected is critical.
After a hard day’s skiing, I would crash on the sofa in front of the fire and relax. However, this was not the case for my friends. Both would take out their laptops and start working. At one point, I looked up to see the Google search page on one of the laptops. When I asked what he was doing, he said that there were some issues with his office in Buckinghamshire and he needed to find a company that could to help solve the problem. So 2,000 meters up a French Alp at the very end of December was not an inhibitor for him running his business, and online was the conduit to achieving this.
This got me thinking about how we view the holiday period. It is a little trite to say that the Internet has changed the way we live and the way we conduct business, but it is true. Now many business decision makers work whilst on holiday (for better or worse), and traditional views of when our customers and prospects look for products and services (seasonality) need to be re-examined.
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Traditionally, many B2B companies all but stop their marketing and demand generation programs over the Christmas period. Common sense tells us that a business decision maker is not going to be looking for a solution to his/her business problem on Christmas day. However, Google internal data shows us that search volumes for the ‘Office Supplies’ category were at 41% of its highest search volume week in 2009 (5/10/2009) during Christmas week (21/12/2009). Similarly, search volumes for the ‘Business Services’ category were at 43%.
Real-time insights that the Internet shows us that the Christmas and New Year period is far from a complete shutdown in online business activities. For example, the volume of searches for ‘business software’ during the Christmas weeks only decreased slightly as a proportion of UK searches. This really surprised me as one would expect the difference in levels of B2C and B2B search terms to be much more dramatic at this time of the year.
Using real-time insights from online tools to sanity check your assumptions of where and when your prospects are looking for your products should now be an essential part of your market intelligence. Tools such as Insights for Search (www.google.com/insights/search/) can give you a real-time view on what your prospects are searching for and when. There is an excellent story about how Alan Lim, founder of Purely Gadgets, used Google to help his company to expand rapidly. By using online insights from tools such as Insights for Search, he was able to identify seasonality peaks and troughs in the consumer electronics market. Armed with this insight, the company was able to source products when demand was lower, and therefore cheaper, and sell when demand and prices were higher.
The experience of the last couple of weeks proved to me that business decision makers no longer confine their online searching to business hours. They search for solutions to their business challenges anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. Has your online strategy evolved to capture the opportunity this provides?